A Brief History of San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International AirportOn May 7, 1927, a new airport, Mills Field Municipal Airport of San Francisco, opened to the excitement of those living in the San Francisco area. The 150 acres for the airport was purchased from the estate of D.O. Mills. The remaining part of the land became the town of Millbrae.

San Francisco International airport has a long and interesting history.  On June 9, 1931, the name was changed to San Francisco airport and six months later the administration of the quickly growing airport was placed under the Public Utilities Commission. On November 17,1932, the citizens of San Francisco approved a $260,000 bond to develop the airport. The airport grew rapidly because the military was based at nearby Oakland Airport during World War II.

Initially, there was concern about the growth of this airport, but that was solved with the reclamation of 350 acres of coastal wetlands in tideland. The airport quickly continued to grow when in November, 1935, the airport’s runway C was extended from 1,900 feet to 3,000 feet.

Pan American chose the San Francisco Airport as its location to do the first regularly scheduled trans-oceanic air service. The flight took off from the San Francisco airport and 59 hours later, after four stops, it landed in Manila, Philippines. The plane was so heavy that when it took off from the airport it had to fly under the cables of the East Bay Bridge that had not been completed yet. The plane, China Clipper, became instantly famous and set off a rage of new toys, beer and food all with the name China Clipper.

On July 29, 1959, the first jet bridge in the United States was installed at San Francisco International Airport. The jet bridge was seen as a real advancement because passengers could keep dry in all weather and terminal security was greatly enhanced.


SFO Facts You Can Use

The San Francisco Airport serves almost 41 million travelers each year on 43 airlines. Of those, almost three of four are headed to other locations within the United States. Travelers can reach 74 cities within the United States on non-stop flights. Travelers can also reach an additional 42 cities by stopping only one time.

The top domestic location when flying out of San Francisco Airport is Los Angeles, followed by New York, Chicago, Hawaii and Baltimore.

San Francisco Airport serves over 9,000,000 international travelers. Of those, 45 percent are headed to Asia or the Middle East, 27 percent are headed to Europe, 14 percent are headed to Canada, 8 percent are headed to Mexico or the Caribbean and four percent are headed to Australia on 28 international carriers with 646 weekly flights.

The top international destination is Canada followed very closely by China. Other important international destinations include Japan, United Kingdom, Germany and Mexico.

The largest airline at San Francisco airport, controlling 44 percent of the travel market, is United Airlines.  Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and American Airlines each control eight percent of the market share.

Several unique things about the airport will fascinate visitors to the airport. In Terminal 2, visitors are able to feast on a unique variety of local cuisine that is much better than the average airport food.

The Yoga Room is also the only yoga room in the world located inside an airport. It is a great place to relax and stretch before or after a long day of traveling.

Water hydration stations for the refilling of water bottles also await visitors. The hydration stations are located post-security in Terminal 3 in the Hub food court, Terminal 2 near Gates 51 and 58, and in the International Terminal Boarding Area A near Gate A1. San Francisco airport officials say they are excited to participate in this program as a way to encourage visitors to conserve natural resources.

The aquariums, located on the ticket level of Terminal 1 at the San Francisco Airport, allow all visitors to learn about three distinct aquatic communities. Children will enjoy playing on the equipment provided by the airport. Look for these areas near boarding gate 87A in terminal 3 and near boarding gate 54A in Terminal 2.

San Francisco Airport Ranking

From January to May 2012, the San Francisco International Airport was ranked 21st in the world for number of passengers served. During that period, they served 17,065,736 passengers. That puts them just behind McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, who served 17,156,487 passengers. It placed them just ahead of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, who served 16,956,367. The busiest airport in the United States and the world is Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, that served 38,206,174 passengers.

Airports look to Skytrax to rate them against each other. Earlier in 2012, the expert travelers at Skytrax rated San Francisco International Airport as the second best airport in the United States. Topping the list was the airport at Cincinnati, Ohio. Both airports are listed among the top 40 airports in the world.

In addition, Skytrax rated the staff at San Francisco International Airport the best in North America. Terminal 2 at the airport was named the first LEED gold airport in the United States. The terminal was given this award because the terminal is 15 percent more energy efficient that required by building codes. The plumbing installed in the terminal is 40 percent more efficient than standard fixtures. All water in the facility’s restrooms is reclaimed. All vendors must use recycled materials. The beautiful skylights and huge windows help to reduce the terminal’s electric usage.

The travelers who read Travel and Leisure rated the San Francisco International Airport as the fifth best in the United States. In making their choice, travelers said they love the ease of the public transportation. They also loved the speed of the baggage handling. They also express appreciation for the free Wi-Fi.

Travel Weekly also gave San Francisco Airport top marks. It gave the airport top marks in its efforts to be environmentally friendly. The organization also gave the airport top marks for its social media program.

The readers of Frequent Business Traveler have also named San Francisco Airport as the best airport in the Americas. The readers said they particularly loved the large number of stores and the great staff at the airport.

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